The OMASTERS - The Book Proposal



THE OMASTERS is an imaginary adventure framing real events: the sudden appearance of a teacher or teaching that tokens the radical reformulation of a prevailing world view. The fantasy story is about a group of children from the present generation with an extraordinary capacity for embracing paradoxes--logical and psychological--who enter higher or­ders of complexity motivated primarily by esthetic delight.

THE OMASTERS, sublime though innocent generalists, contemplate sophisticated processes while we are still computing products. A precocious and powerful inner circle of the group, known as The Lords of Form, move about the world in disguise develop­ing intellectual foundations for NOVACULT from imaginary holograms generated by interface patterns between Pure Mathe­matics and Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, whale songs and Hopi Kachina dances. As refined by the Lords of Form, the "Flip­pety" principle of Concept-Embrace is put into practice by THE OMASTERS, producing technological advances such as the Optical-Process Bio-Interface Computer, the Adamantine Bit, and a new critical apparatus for literature and the arts.

Principal historical hero for THE OMASTERS is G. Spencer Brown, a "mythmatician," also sportsman, inventor, poet and former philosophy don. He appears at a conference of psycho-cosmic scientists, scholars and artists (attended clandes­tinely by one of the Lords of Form). Brown presents a dis­course on "the laws of form"--a highly conceptualized Vision of the Void--explaining what these laws are and how they are generated. A paradigm of how we may imagine them to appear is already published: an ultra-condensed textbook called Laws of Form (Julian Press, 1972). It is a calculus of in­dications in the realm of pure mathematics--one in which the use of imaginary values provides a new theoretical basis for electronic switching, Boolean algebra and all binary systems, and so too for more complex orders of number and measure.

As read by THE OMASTERS, Laws of Form is a major poem on the order of the Divine Comedy, in that each contains a vision of what has been called "Eternity." Both poets describe what remains constant in a universe of change: Dante's epic re­counts the journey inward, toward a mystical union with God, while Brown's system indicates the Void at the center, and as in Buddhist sutras works outward through the use of in­junctive language, generating archetypal patterns from the basic act of distinction. "Angels" in the Commedia become "consequences" in the calculus, which relationship Brown makes explicit. The two texts are reports on a vision, not merely private but common to all sentient beings, and capable of being understood in the same way by all humanity.

The "Eternal" realm has been described by all major religions, documented in the West by Jung, among others, and experienced through inspiration, psychedelics, and meditation. Laws of Form shows how it is that all these visions are technically and fundamentally the same. The OMASTERS use Brown's teaching to define a basic ground for their associative metaconsciousness version of the glass bead game.

With the Lords of Form as vanguard, the OMASTERS acquire and analyse a transcript of Brown's excurses on the text. As though it were a golden fleece, they spin from the transcript their thread of associations, which are woven into a Sufi story/science fantasy illustrating the discourse and commenting on it. Brown's avatar appears as an intergalactic voyager who assists in deciphering the diamond-hard message, providing the keys for step-down transformations from the abstract calculus to everyday life situations, and for step-up transformations to interspecies and outer space communication.

The frame story unfolds as three interlacing accounts of THE OMASTERS in action, featuring Primo the Fool, Woody Nicholson and Shakuhachi Unzen, in respectively a space opera, a celebration of the myth of America, and an East-West fantasy farce. Historical, technical and utterly fictive events are arranged as mirrors in a fun house to catch the play of real and imaginary values. Through the warp of science and scholarship we shuttle the thread of fantastic delight.

Primo has all the correct maps--Laws of Form, the I Ching, a Tarot deck, Robert's Rules of Order--but he doesn't know how to read them. They lie on the Crystal Navigation Table of the Gavity/Gracewarpship Adamantinus, whose captain has vanished, leaving the controls locked on a course set for the Black Hole in Cygnus. From the confused advice and theoretical formulations offered by the desperado experts of his cosmic crew, he selects a true course through the warp, guided by contemplating the Yellow Pearl, an incarnation of the Queen of Heaven herself.

As Woodrow Nicholson, our hero appears at the head of his party in '76, by which time we have a whole string of backup Vice Presidents. Woody is the 22d, kept roving (for security) in the Last of the Winnebagoes on a circuit of national parks and supermarket parking lots, However, he is impelled to pick up the standard when his precedents are all wiped out in a wicked game of "21" by Ahab McGaff, proprietor of the Double Cross Saloon in 'Vegas, and international purveyor of contraband whale meat. Supported by the Sufia, Woody openly challenges Ahab, who is also the secret head of MaFie, the spiritual materialist monopolists. Following the tradition of the Eisteddfodd in Wales, Woody schedules a special competition to replace elections: the Grand Noshinals, to be held on the Fourth of July --with the winning recipe from the eat-offs to determine the identity of the Vajrayogini, our first woman president. Ahab tries simultaneously to fix the Eisteddfodd and, through his show business connections, to produce it for national television.

Shakuhachi Unzen is dishwasher and garbageman at the Teahouse of Necessity. Late each night he serves an installment of the Feast of 4001 Fools. Despite his clownish circumstances, Shakuhachi operates in the ancient tradition of Ninja, martial arts masters of invisibility. In compiling a cookbook of spontaneous concoctions, he discovers a magic recipe which induces the illusion of instant enlightenment--but he must await the appropriate recipient before the real transmission can be completed.

Our book is in the tradition of Alice's Adventures--an imaginary, someways serious consideration of logic and paradox. There really was a conference, organized by John C. Lilly, M. D., and the late Alan Watts, and attended by the present authors, at Esalen Institute, Big Sur; G. Spencer Brown did appear there and discuss his calculus and the laws of form generally. Complementing actual events, the stories provide a vehicle for our own commentary on laws of form, and frame contributions from Brown and other participants in the conference. We also provide a bibliography of the reference net with which we hunt the white whale of imagination, Moby Blick. Such a paradigmatic approach to information systems offers refreshing possibilities for scholarship: a positive, cheerful blueprint for reconstruction after the seemingly imminent collapse of the Tower of Babel, when Finnegan Falsegain.

A receptive audience for this book may be found among the literary/spiritual/body movement/consciousness adepts who have made Carlos Castaneda's adventures with Don Juan best-sellers. The text should have a campus market, and a place in university libraries as a map of the territory explored in depth by disciplines with tree-logic structures. There is potential for a mass-audience; science-fiction fans will enjoy the book, and likely as well readers of the New Yorker, Scientific American, and the slick and hip media. Out of the three Sufi stories we can derive a television series and perhaps an animated cartoon. Presumably we could spin off Shakuhachi T-shirts, nickel Woody buttons, models of the Adamantinus, and other promotional gimmicks.

Recalling Gurdjieff's recommendations for reading Tales of Beelzebub three times through, we all but guarantee Complete Enlightenment when our book is read as directed: once as a child, again when mature, and finally when mellow with age.


I. Frame
Recognizing Laws of Form as a vision of the Eternal regions, the Lords of Form dispatch Philip Taoed, secret agent 109, to Esalen to make contact with G. Spencer Brown. This chapter is Taoed's report, confirming Brown's role as intergalactic messenger and culture-bringer. It contains a dossier on Brown, and introduces the other participants in the conference. Discussion of the nature of the fifth crossing, from Eternity into the imaginary (temporal) state.

II. Processing
Transcript of Brown's remarks, obtained by Taoed, analyzed by the Lords of Form. They want to get his number, which is coded into the discussion of primes on pp. 51-56 of the text. Technical experts from Sufi Central provide data on injunctive and descriptive language, myth and folklore, the Synod of Whitby, and the nature of Brown's cosmology. Particular attention paid to the "covenant of the cradle" (p. 70). Notes by Taoed on obscure sections of the transcript. This document, profound, precise and most eloquent in its argument, a discussion of the formal relationships of science and culture, makes up a significant portion of the chapter.

III. Models
To balance his own report, andiilluminate its biases, Taoed provides an appendix detailing what happened at Esalen after Brown left: mini-synod over issue of how to chant the sutras of Laws of Form; the calculus put to music by the Brown Cross Chorale (sheet music provided); Karl Pribram lectures on cognitive .processing and brain structure, with introduction of the adamantine isomorph, a grammar for information processing; Heinz von Foerster constructs reality, and John Lilly simulates it.


Listening to the Brown tapes, the OMASTERS focus on the Yellow Pearl, onion-formed around a diamond seed and containing in its layered patterns the Fourier transform of the three Sufi stories of Primo the Fool, Woody Nicholson, and Shakuhachi Unzen. Scanning the Pearl with telepathic transmissions at microwave frequencies, the OMASTERS perform the ecstatic group meditation that generates the dream, in the form of an animated hologram (as outlined by Pribram in the preceding chapter).

IV. Primo
Alone on the bridge, Primo must discover how to control the Adamantinus and divert it from its course for the Black Hole in Cygnus. He is coupled to the ship through the bio-interface computer, which he programs through changes in his metabolism and brainwave patterns induced by diet, chanting, and meditation. Over the videocom, he is instructed in the use of the maps on the Crystal Navigation Table by Ignatz Fine, the Hasidic Mandarin and expert on the I Ching, gestalted by the Phantom Shrink, taught formal rituals by the gurus of Apure, a branch of MaFie, led into the paths of vegetarianism by Richheart Nobleson, stoned-out playboy desert painter, and occasionally by the captain himself in the guise of the omniscient Jose Que.

All efforts to control the ship fail, however, until Primo is distracted by the sudden appearance of the very pregnant Red Queen of Heaven. Following instructions from Joyce James, graduate Wellesley medievalist, he acts as midwife for the delivery of the infant Yellow Pearl. In the act of catching the baby, he staggers backward into the control panel, short-circuiting the board and jolting the Adamantinus off its course, through the gravity/gracewarp into the America of Woody Nicholson's struggle with Ahab McGaff.

V. Woody Nicholson
In this episode, Primo assumes the role of Matt Wells, agent for Scotland Fields, who progresses through the archetypes of the Tarot deck in his search for the Yellow Pearl. She appears this time as the 12-year ­old T'ai Ch'i star of the Peking Opera, whose disappearance during a tour of the United States has created an international incident. The government itself is in turmoil, the president and the first 21 vices having been wiped out by Ahab at the Double Cross Saloon. Woody Nicholson directs affairs of state from his superbly outfitted Winnebago, shuttling from national park to national park to avoid the agents of MaFie, Ahab's spiritual materialist monopoly.

Though this chapter has a number of subplots, such as Matt's mission and the race between Marie and the Sufia to discover the secret of interspecies communication with whales and dolphins (and thus to receive messages from the galactic center), the climax is the Grand Noshinals, the Eisteddfodd arranged by Woody to restore poetry and music to the electoral process. The winning recipe is submitted by the Yellow Pearl herself; it is for the Ling Chi, the ancient Chinese elixir of life, in the form of an amanita muscaria hors d'oeuvre topped by a special black mayonnaise. To prevent the Yellow Pearl from becoming the first woman president, Ahab seeks an injunction against her on the grounds that she is not an American citizen. Scholarly research into her ancestry reveals the history of the Teahouse of Necessity and the role of Shakuhachi Unzen as the unrecognized master chef.

VI. Shakuhachi Unzen
The Teahouse of Necessity where Shakuhachi works as dish­washer and garbageman is set in a bamboo grove planted by the Oriental immigrants to California during gold rush days. Late each night after the cook gets off Shakuhachi selects dregs for mixing into a sometimes magical concoction offered to distinguished visitors, carefully documenting the recipes and reactions. Philip Taoed, in a time-warp disguise as the 4001st Fool, the wandering king of Troy, is ushered by Unzen to the Yellow Pearl in an earlier American incarnation who anoints Taoed with the Shakti Lymphatic Massage. Pressing his button, the Yellow Pearl causes Taoed to reveal the true motive of his cosmic travels before the lLama Al Paca, resi­dent spiritual materialist secretly on a warp of his own.

Al Paca deviously programs the Gravity/Gracewarp capture of the Teahouse and its occupants, but is eluded by Shaku­hachi who hides in the well, where he meets various ghosts claiming to be Abbot and Costello, Rowan and Martin, Martin and Lewis, Lewis and Clark etc. Unzen is forced to wander, as he completes a tour of the New World retracing the Hopi migrations, retaining in his memory the magic recipe without which Al Paca and the others cannot return.

Matt Wells and Shakuhachi cross paths at four corners just as Primo backs into enlightenment. After a wild goose chase through Monument Valley, they join up with Woody and the Sufia for a titanic encounter with Ahab McGaff, Mafie and the lLama Al Paca. This resolution of the three stories is carefully attended by the OMASTERS, who award honors for style in a critical bibliography, and elevate the Yellow Pearl as queen of Indices.


I.  Introduction. 20-25 pp.
Announcement of the intent of the book: to present an account of the import of the Laws of Form, and of how we may see in these laws the marriage of the elements of duality variously represented as yang and yin, male/ female, science/religion, logic/art, etc. Presentation of the paradigm to be investigated, Laws of Form, with exposition of its general principles and definition of, terms. Some historical and biographical material on G. Spencer Brown.

II. Conference and transcript. 150-200 pages
Brief description of how the AUM conference was convened, by John Lilly and Alan Watts, at Esalen March 18-25, 1973, and of who was present. Transcript of Brown's remarks, fully annotated. Precise, profound, and most elegant in its argument, the text shows Brown's polished wit in a discussion of the formal relationships of science and culture.

III. Commentary. 100-150 pp.
An essay on Laws of Form, analyzing its structure, language, and symbols to show how the calculus operates as a paradigm for whole systems, and is a bridge between the modes it distinguishes. With Brown's transcript as a point of departure, we explore other aspects of form in the areas of, for example:

  • Logic and mathematics: (number theory, group theory, algebra)

  • Exact sciences: (wave and particle physics, astronomy, neurophysiology)

  • Religion: (Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, esoteric Christianity)

  • Language: (injunctive & descriptive; grammar; relation of roots and meaning)

  • Psychology: (Jungian analysis, Gestalt)

  • Synchronicity: (Tarot, I Ching.)

  • Myth & literature: (Grail legends, fairy tales, Eastern, Greek, Celtic mythology)

IV. Other views. 50-100 pp.
Annotated transcripts of remarks by other participants at the AUM conference. Karl Pribram, Stanford neuro-physiologist, on how the brain generates models from sensory data. Heinz von Foerster, cyberneticist, on cognitive processing. John Lilly on simula and belief systems.

V. Laws of Form and Mathematics
Contribution from a professional mathematician, placing the calculus in the context of its own discipline.

VI. Bibliography. 50 pp.
A descriptive listing of some 200 books that we have found useful, together with a discussion of how it is that they constitute a reference net.


The manuscript will run approximately 540 pages, at 250 words/page. In addition, we plan on using about 22 photos, charts, drawings, and mandalas. We are prepared to work closely with a publisher at all stages of the creation and design of the book. We can deliver a finished manuscript in six to nine months.

Kurt von Meier
Walter Barney